Category Archives: Misc.

Arrivederci, Roma

Lovely readers,

If you follow my blog regularly you may have noticed I have been MIA for while now. I meant to put up a post announcing a temporary break from posting but I’ve had a whirlwind spring and summer. Baby Peach is to blame:

Baby P

At my first prenatal appointment my OB doc couldn’t find a heartbeat on the Doppler Fetal Monitor because Baby P thrashed around so much the heartbeat was muffled by static. From then on I referred to her as ninja baby. So freaking cute. It was the highlight of every prenatal appointment, hearing her as if through a far-away radio station, barely in tune.

But what’s cute in utero is challenging when gravity takes hold. Ninja babies, as I have rudely discovered, break every rule in the baby books. Why?

Ninjas have ninja focus. Ninjas don’t need normal human sleep. And ninjas can kick butt like nobody’s business. Peach is the adorable baby equivalent. She’s classic high needs and if life has gifted you with one of these bright, spirited children, you know precisely what I’m talking about. Six months into this thing called motherhood, I wouldn’t have Baby Peach any other way. But being an accidental mother sensei, using 99.9% of my time and energy to train a ninja? Wow, mamas (and papas), it’s tougher than it looks!

I adore sharing tart and titillating stories with you guys, but for the sake of sanity and sleep, I’m taking an official break from writing and social media. Blogging is a luxury and it’s been an absolute pleasure to interact with all of you. I hope I’ll be able to return to posting sooner than later and that you guys will stay with me. Until then, I wish you all a bit of the joy I’m experiencing.

Susan Ardelie is the author of Shadow Fire Lady, the first book in the Incorporeal Lords series, a historical paranormal romance.  

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A Merry Christmas Quiz

What’s better than a holiday that erases Monday and Tuesday from the work week? Okay, maybe nothing. What’s better than spending Christmas with your Aunt Tut-Tut and Uncle Lurch when no Russian Federation vodka is within reach? The bar has been set low but you’ve guessed it: Baroque dancers in full court costume from the English Baroque Festival is the correct answer. I find the lady in red a particular delight.

 

In all seriousness I hope you readers have a lovely day whether you get your celebrating on with Christmas, Hanukkah, Kwanza, or Yuletide (and whichever other special days I’m missing here).
 
To good cheer and tangling beneath the mistletoe!

Very Inspiring Blogger Award

I’ve been nominated for the Very Inspiring Blogger Award  by the generous and kind Laura Purcell at her eponymous blog Laura Purcell | Historical Fiction, Georgian Style.  If you’re interested in Georgian history and the writing life, her blog is worth a look (and a linger!)

Receivers of the Very Inspiring Blog Award have to tell you seven things about themselves and nominate seven other blogs.

So without further ado. . .

Seven  Totally Random & Unimportant Things  About Yours Truly

1) I’ve snorkeled with sharks and barracuda, ridden an Indian elephant, snowmobiled over a mountain pass, and been covered neck to toe in leeches.  Outdoorsy adventure—and its occasional mishaps—thrill me to no end.  I get downright twitchy if I spend too much time indoors.

2) Pinarellos and curvy black roads are my idea of dreamy.  If I slack off blogging in July, it’s because I’m watching three hours of television daily, marveling over the enviable athleticism in the Tour de France and waiting for the mountain stage attacks.  Yes, readers, I am a cycling nut.

3) I’m a classic INFJ and a libra.

4) I listen to TED Talks when I’m doing the dishes or the laundry.  Somehow, instead of glaring resentfully at housekeeping chores like I used to, I now (almost) look forward to cleaning.  This week I enjoyed Sherry Turkle’s thought provoking Connected, but Alone? and Brian Goldman’s stark honesty in Doctors Make Mistakes.  Can We Talk about That?

5) I have three gardens and am working on the fourth this summer.  I also have garden books full of future projects and keep a yearly garden journal (so nerdy, I know!).  Suffice it to say, life will be done with me before I am done with my gardens.

6) I like to laugh.  In fact, there’s almost nothing I like more than laughing.

7) I’m now one of those annoying people that begin sentences with “Did you know in the 18th century . . . ” My friends and family strongly encourage anybody likeminded to chat me up on the blog and on Twitter (and, for that matter, Pinterest, email, and by any means possible . . . ) as it will hopefully divert this unfortunate development away from them.

Seven Blog Nominations

The blogs I’m nominating comprise an eclectic list with a tendency toward history.  They are all fabulous.  Enjoy!

1) Jami Gold: Jami is a thoughtful, friendly author who always has something insightful to say about the writing life.  And I’m always listening.

2) The Historic Foodie: All this blogging makes me hungry and Victoria dishes up two of my favorite things: history and food.

3) Grub Street Lodger: Adam makes me want to read 18th century books I’m convinced I don’t have time to read.  But it appears I do.  His reviews alone are great reads.

4)  The Quack Doctor: Caroline’s posts on patent remedies from history never cease to amuse me.  If you’re curious about past uses of medicine and enjoy cosmetic adverts, this blog will tickle you.

5) Visiting Houses & Gardens: Robin visits places I must travel thousands of miles to see and—wait for it—provides itineraries!  This is where I get my English house fix.

6) Titillating Tidbits about the Life and Times of Marie Antoinette:  Leah’s blog is a must for lovers of the tragic queen and the French Revolution.

7) Pauline’s Pirates and Privateers:  Because Pauline writes about pirates and pirates are awesome.

Rubens’ Majestic Marchesa

One can imagine the Marchesa Brigida Spinola Doria held a secret behind her lively expression.

Peter Paul Rubens painted her in 1606 when he, a keen student of the Italian masters, was 28.  She was 22, a pink-cheeked newlywed from a leading family in Genoa.  A year prior in July 1605, she had married her cousin Giacomo Massimiliano Doria after receiving a matrimonial dispensation from the pope.  This was a common exemption in canon law that allowed members of consanguineous aristocratic families to marry and proved especially useful where powers were centralized among the exalted few.

Although this portrait is considered one of Rubens’ finest, not much is known about the Marchesa.  We know that her first husband died and that she remarried, but there is no recorded date for her death.  If lengthy accounts of her life exist, they appear to be moldering in libraries somewhere.

Given the date of the portrait and her elaborate styling, she is believed to be wearing her wedding finery.  The original portrait was cut down to its current size between 1854 and 1886, possibly because of water damage, and showed an open landscape to the Marchesa’s right.

In full view, she would have stood on the terrace of a palace, a scene intended to arouse an impression of wealth and power.  The tight crop makes the detailing all the more exquisite, from her luminescent silk gown to the crimson drapery behind her.  Similar to Rubens’ portrait of Maria Serra Pallavicino, her Elizabethan ruff is among the most elaborate I’ve ever seen.  I half wonder how she managed to move her head, although perhaps this is apropos her fate.

A Spinola by birth, the Marchesa married into the Dorias.  By the 16th and 17th centuries, the Dorias–a feudal, soldiering lot–had become the richest family in Genoa.  Their principal spheres of influence resided in banking and the military, and as part of the “aristocratic republic”, they occupied seats in government as ambassadors and prelates.  Six Dorias rose to power as doges between 1528-1797, which ensured their place at the top of Genoan society.

The Spinolas had a similar pedigree.  Although having descended from their heights in the 13th and 14th centuries, they held prized roles in society, making a match between the two families an exceptional one.

The Marchesa’s portrait currently hangs in the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.  It has had a long ownership history and is one of Rubens’ few surviving portraits from his Italian period of 1600-1608.  Influenced by Veronese, Tintoretto, and principally by Titian, Rubens’ style in painting the Marchesa would later make its mark on Sir Joshua Reynolds and Thomas Gainsborough, two prominent 18th century painters.

This portrait of the Marchesa is one of my favorites.  She’s more than beautiful; she’s intriguing, and I’m not sure if it’s Rubens skill in enlivening his subjects or merely reflecting their depths that makes the portrait so compelling.  All I know is that canvassing the Italian aristocracy in his search for greatness works for him here.  He captures the Marchesa’s elegant intensity with such mastery that it’s hard to look away once she’s held you in her gaze.

Humphry Repton: Landscape Gardener and Jane Austen Inspirer

From Austen’s Mansfield Park:

In a recession society, stories of entrepreneurs “making it” after years of financial struggles and doomsday predictions are our psychological bread and butter.  Underdogs, late bloomers, scrappy fighters turned self-made–we love them.  Although removed from us by time and space, Humphry Repton, the 18th century’s last great English landscape gardener, was such a man. 

To call him a jack of all trades would be an understatement. Repton was great at two things, one of which was failing in professional pursuits.  When he was 12, his parents shipped him off to the Netherlands to cultivate his mercantile sensibilities . . . of which he had none.  Instead he was artsy, born. . .

He apprenticed as a textile merchant and set up his own shop, proving his stint at falling short of success was more than an abbreviated trend.  In 1778, his dismal lack of accomplishment magnified by his parent’s recent death, Humphry left his family home of Norwich, and treaded a course of trades in his new domicile of Sustead.  Among them, he was secretary to Lord Lieutenant of Ireland (briefly), a journalist, a political agent (read: consultant and possibly unemployed), a dramatist, an artist, a reformer of mail coach system,  etc., etc.  In short, the fellow lost a lot of capital.

Fast forward ten years to 1788.  Our dear Humphry is 36, broke, and a father to four children.  Earlier in his youth while training to be a merchant, he’d hobnobbed with a wealthy Dutch family wherein he acquired a penchant for botanical sketches.  This interest later played a pivotal role in his future when his botanist friend, James Edward Smith, encouraged him to study the subject for who is Repton’s neighbor in Sustead but Mr. Wyndham, owner of a vast library containing works on botany.  What luck!  Mr. Wyndham was also coincidentally named Lord Lieutenant of Ireland during their acquaintance which explains Repton’s secretarial work.   

This is the point where everthing changes for Repton.  After years of floundering, he has acquired three avenues that point toward his future success:  a network of wealthy, high class individuals (who, of course, require gardens), access to the right information, and a compendium of personal experience achieved through improving upon his own country property in Sustead.  Humphry Repton, dignified landscape gardner is thus born.

Armed with no real horticultural experince, it comes as somewhat of a suprise that Repton’s designs, displayed through his watercolors, were an immediate  sensation.  What made Repton different from his peers was his ability to work with an established character and situation of a  house and its adjoining landscape.  He improved upon designs of other artists, choosing to deviate from a garden’s traditionally straight paths by opening up natural vistas to incorporate bordering architecture, say a church spire, or compelling topography, such as rolling hills, into his scheme.  He published “Red Books”, landscape designs reminiscent of “before” and “after” makeovers found in today’s fashion magazines.  Although he received criticism by others in his profession for his straightforward, simple designs, he worked with nature’s dictates, not against them.  As a result, his work was made more affordable because he didn’t tear out existing structure, but modified, added, and enhanced.  Neither informed by asceticism nor our modern sense of minimalism, he approached his design with the pragmatism common today.  This is apparent in the Red Book of Stanage Park:

 An impressive “before” and “after” of Harleston House and Park, illustrating improvments in symmetry and balanced architecture, is shown below:

Regarding Jane Austen

During Repton’s thirty years as a landscape architect, he gained over 400 commissions and worked on a number of beautiful 18th century estates, some of which are mentioned in Jane Austen’s novels (Blaise Castle, for example).   Austen was no stranger to Repton herself, having seen Adlestrop house in person,  and was known to be an admirer of his work.  Mr. Darcy’s Pemberly house is Repton personified:

ELIZABETH , as they drove along, watched for the first appearance of Pemberley Woods with some perturbation; and when at length they turned in at the lodge, her spirits were in a high flutter.

The park was very large, and contained great variety of ground. They entered it in one of its lowest points, and drove for some time through a beautiful wood, stretching over a wide extent.

“Elizabeth ‘s mind was too full for conversation, but she saw and admired every remarkable spot and point of view. They gradually ascended for half a mile, and then found themselves at the top of a considerable eminence, where the wood ceased, and the eye was instantly caught by Pemberley House, situated on the opposite side of a valley, into which the road with some abruptness wound. It was a large, handsome, stone building, standing well on rising ground, and backed by a ridge of high woody hills; — and in front, a stream of some natural importance was swelled into greater, but without any artificial appearance. Its banks were neither formal, nor falsely adorned. Elizabeth was delighted. She had never seen a place for which nature had done more, or where natural beauty had been so little counteracted by an awkward taste. They were all of them warm in their admiration; and at that moment she felt, that to be mistress of Pemberley might be something!

They descended the hill, crossed the bridge, and drove to the door; and, while examining the nearer aspect of the house, all her apprehensions of meeting its owner returned. She dreaded lest the chambermaid had been mistaken. On applying to see the place, they were admitted into the hall; and Elizabeth , as they waited for the housekeeper, had leisure to wonder at her being where she was.

The housekeeper came; a respectable-looking, elderly woman, much less fine, and more civil, than she had any notion of finding her. They followed her into the dining-parlour. It was a large, well-proportioned room, handsomely fitted up. Elizabeth , after slightly surveying it, went to a window to enjoy its prospect. The hill, crowned with wood, from which they had descended, receiving increased abruptness from the distance, was a beautiful object. Every disposition of the ground was good; and she looked on the whole scene, the river, the trees scattered on its banks, and the winding of the valley, as far as she could trace it, with delight.”

 For more on Repton and Austen, visit these links

 

2010 Reading List

Without my intention, 2010 seemed to be the year of romance novels.  I read 41 of them, many embarrassingly having to do with dukes (I don’t even have a fetish for dukes!), but what can I say?  I love romances and considering I didn’t read my first one until I graduated from college, I’ve a lot of catching up to do! 

In reviewing the list, 2010 also appeared to be the year of reading Kresley Cole as I discovered her Immortals After Dark series and devoured.  I recommend them for highly diverting reads and days you don’t mind absolutely ignoring your partner, friends, dog, and the incessant call of dirty dishes.  I have a feeling that Gena Showalter, a novelist I just started reading today, will be 2011’s answer to waiting for Cole’s next offering of IAD. 

So what can you expect to see in 2011?  I will attempt to improve upon the diversity in my reading, but we’ll see.  The call of popular fiction is strong! 

Here’s the main stats for 2010:

Vampires: 11 (again, a little embarrassing.  Vamps have descended culturally since Anne Rice and I can’t say I don’t like it just a little).

18th Century Reads: 7

Writing Related: 4

French Related: 9

Classics: 4 (dismal!)

Epistolary: 2

Memoir: 2

100 89 in 2010

1.  Covenant with the Vampire – Jeanne Kalogridis 

2.  Tempt me at Twilight – Lisa Kleypas

3.  The Vampire Diaries – The Awakening – L.J. Smith

4. The Vampire Diaries – The Struggle – L.J. Smith

5.  French Women Don’t Get Fat – Mireille Guiliano

6.  The Vampire Diaries – The Fury – L.J. Smith

7.  The Vampire Diaries – Dark Reunion – L.J. Smith

8.  The Enchanter – Vladimir Nabokov  (see, I do read classics!  the novella that inspired Lolita)

9.  To Desire a Devil – Elizabeth Hoyt

10.  Duchess by Night – Eloisa James (laughed out loud with this one!)

11. Skinny Bitch – Rory Freedman and Kim Barnouin

12.  Black Ice – Anne Stuart

13.  The Crown – Deborah Chester

14.  French Ways and Their Meaning – Edith Wharton

15.  What happens in London – Julia Quinn

16.  The Writer’s Guide to Everyday Life in Regency and Victorian England from 1811-1901 – Kristine Hughes

17.  Daily Candy A to Z: An Insider’s Guide to the Sweet Life

18.  Devil in Winter – Lisa Kleypas

19.  The Convenient Marriage – Georgette Heyer

20.  Double Enchantment – Kathryne Kennedy 

21.  A Hunger like No Other – Kresley Cole

22.  No Rest for the Wicked – Kresley Cole

23.  Wicked Deeds on a Winter’s Night – Kresley Cole

24.  Lord of Scoundrels – Loretta Chase

25.  Whitney, My Love – Judith McNaught

26.  These Old Shades – Georgette Heyer

27.  Claiming the Courtesan – Anna Campbell

28.  Dark needs at Night’s Edge – Kresley Cole

29.  A Broom of One’s Own – Nancy Peacock

30.  Women and Money – Suze Orman

31.  A Duke of Her Own – Eloisa James

32.  The Virginia Woolf’s Writers’ Workshop – Danell Jones

33.  Pen on Fire – Barbara DeMarco Barrett

34.  Moral Disorder – Margaret Atwood

35.  Kiss of a Demon King – Kresley Cole

36.  Pleasure of a Dark Prince – Kresley Cole

37.  Steamed – Katie Macalister

38.  City of Darkness, City of Light – Marge Piercy (French Historical Oh-la-la Challenge #1)

39.  Harris’s List of Covent Garden Ladies – Sex in the City in Georgian Britian – Hallie Rubenhold

40.  The French Revoluion, Volume Two – Thomas Carlyle

41.  Night Falls Darkly – Kim Lenox

42.  Covet – J.R. Ward

43.  Queen of Fashion – Caroline Weber (French Historical Oh-la-la Challenge #2)

44.  Disquiet – Julia Leigh

45.  Angelology – Danielle Trussoni

46.  The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette – Carolly Erickson (French Historical Oh-la-la Challenge #3)

47.  Candide and Other Stories – Voltaire

48.  Walden – Thoreau

49.  Scent of Darkness – Christina Dodd

50.  Touch of Darkness – Christina Dodd

51.  Into the Shadow – Christina Dodd

52.  Rebecca – Daphne DuMaurier

53.  Murder Game – Christine Feehan

54.  The Confessions of Catherine De Medici – C.W. Gortner (French Historical Oh-la-la Challenge #4)

55.  Lonely, a Memoir – Emily White

56.  Highland Warrior – Monica McCarty

57.  The Devil’s Queen: A novel of Catherine De Medici – Jeanne Kalogridis (French Historical Oh-la-la Challenge #5)

58.  The Mammoth Book of Paranormal Romance, 2009

59.  Perfume – Patrick Suskind

60.  My Wicked Marquess -Gaelen Foley

61.  Dark Lover – J.R. Ward

61.  The Witch Must Die – Sheldon Cashdan

62.  Not Quite a Husband – Sherry Thomas

63.  Revolutionary Road – Richard Yates

64.  Wuthering Heights – Emily Bronte

65.  Love in the Afternoon – Lisa Kleypas

66.  Fallen Angels – Susannah Kells (French Historical Oh-la-la Challenge #6)

67.  Wicked Plants:  The weeds that killed Lincoln’s mother and other atrocities – Amy Stewart

68.    The Visual History of Costume Accessories – Valerie Cumming

69.  Life in Georgian England – E.N. Williams

70.  The Artist’s Way – Julia Cameron

71.  The Strangely Beautiful Tale of Percy Parker – Leann Hieber

72.  Insatiable – Meg Cabot

73.  Mennonite in a Little Black Dress – Rhoda Janzen

74.  Smooth Talking Stranger – Lisa Kleypas

75.  Dracula in Love – Karen Essex

76.   A Kiss at Midnight – Eloisa James

77.   Pride and Prejudice – Jane Austen

78.    Outliers – Malcolm Gladwell

79.    Think! – Michael R. LeGault

80.  Sugar Daddy – Lisa Kleypas

81.  A Wallflower’s Christmas -Kleypas

82.  The Taming of the Duke – Eloisa James

83.  Mad about the Duke – Elizabeth Boyle

84.  Delicious – Sherry Thomas

85.  Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-1763 – James Boswell

86.  Devil’s Cub – Georgette Heyer

87.  Spain, A History – Raymond Carr

88.  Soulless – Gail Carrigner

89.  Earl of Chesterfield, Selected Letters

90-100.  Gar!  I failed, reader, I miserably failed.   The mid-eighties seem to be my threshold, as the last year I read around 80 something books while aiming for 100.  Huh, maybe if I hadn’t taken off that off that month in November it would’ve worked out better.      

 

Giving Thanks for Modernity

It’s lovely to imagine oneself living in the 18th century. It would not be lovely to actually live in it.  Number one reason?  Sanitation comes to mind, but what about the convenience of daily living?  The rights of man?  The freedom for females to move without fainting?  Hell, what about fresh, exotic fruit?  Fish that doesn’t knock you out with one whiff?

On that note, I am thankful for all the beautiful technologies we modern gals have yet to romanticize. Here’s my top 5.

1.  The water closet–what we now know as the flush toilet–was first used in 26th century b.c. in the Indus Valley Civilization.  For 18th century purposes though, we’ll credit J.F. Brondel, whose ingenious 1738 valve-type flush invention would eventually catapult the western world past the chamber pot (used in most households until the 19th century.  yikes!).

Illustration by David G. Eveleigh; Bogs, Baths and Basins: The Story of Domestic Sanitation.

2.  A life without fitness would be a life without living.  I cannot imagine being unable to sprint, fully bend, let alone breathe in like a yogi.  What the corset did to the female anatomy was frightening, sort of like being pregnant where the baby drives the mother’s organs upward.  Yet, in 18th century ladies, the corset drove the organs inward.  Ouch!

Source: Costumer’s Manifesto

3.  Ever been to India?  I have.  I’m sure it’s like any other 3rd world country in terms of filth, but regarding the delicate western stomach, it’s a sty.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love India.  It’s beautiful–culturally, architecturally, botanically, spiritually–but if you want to walk through streets dirtier than the worst carnie fest, go there.  Or the 18th century.

Hogarth’s Harlot

4.  Laundry!  I can barely manage tossing my whites in the machine and pulling them out before they get smelly or wrinkled.  If I had to work them down a washing board, use lard, and rub, forget clean clothes.  And forget whites.  Prisitine whites were for the privileged and even then, the lawnshirts and chemises had to be newish.

The Last Shift, Carrington Bowles, London

5.  Birth Control!

Empress Maria Theresa and family, Meytens, 1751

I hope everyone can find something to be happy for today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Perfectionism, Worries, and Other Wasters

Untitled (Perfectionism) by Sarah Hobbs

I can never do anything for five minutes, which drives me absolutely fricking crazy.  Pluck weeds in the garden?  Yep, there goes three hours.  Vacuum my office?  Er, try every room.  It’s a disease, but there’s a reason I’m like this: I never, ever catch up.

No matter how many to-do lists I accomplish, or how many daily successes I have, there’s no real kick back. Heard the statement, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you can do today.” I’m revising it to, “Don’t put off tomorrow what you should’ve done yesterday.” Cause there’s always a delay, be it a day, week, month, in what I feel should’ve been accomplished.

Slow down, I hear myself say. You’re so young. You’ve got all the time in the world. Or at least, all the relative time.

What’s mind boggling about this – and I apologize for continuing this bitch rant – is that I’m crazy busy and I don’t even have kids (unless Josie is included, cause that pooch demands a lot of attention!) Now I understand the term “quarter-life crisis” although to be honest, I think it’s a little cheap. I mean how weak, spoiled, whatever adjective you prefer, are we that twenty-somethings have quarter life crises? Thinking about this from my grandmother’s Depression Era pov shames me.

I think this present life chaos all boils down to options. We have a gazillion choices a day, a gazillion things to filter. If I realistically breezed through my to-do list, which on most days includes work, write, house clean, yard maintenance, walk josie, internet research, staying abreast of industry news, cooking dinner for hubby, etc. – those sails would definitely be deflated. And I don’t even have kids . . .

Which brings me back to a few things I always aspire to:

Don’t worry about what you can’t change and don’t worry about what you can change. Yes, Mr. Buddha says, “Don’t worry about anything. Do.”

Things fall apart, it’s their nature. Mend those things you can, leave the rest. It’s okay if some things are broken. Keep only what you can care for.

“You can’t have everything. Where would you put it?” Comedian Steven Wright.

Perfectionsim

In one of my former lives, I used to be a perfectionist. I say former because perfectionism is something I’ve repeatedly yanked out by the root. I guess it’s a control aspect of my personality, psychologically, but I never really felt that way. For me, perfectionism was about never wanting to disappoint, to pull through and do those things that needed to be done when somebody else wouldn’t or couldn’t. It was a little like taking speed every day (which fyi, I never have) because in my head all things had to be done now and done right. I cleaned with fury, revised and rewrote until I would wake up disoriented from arranging sentences in my sleep.

I have since embarked on a tentative 90% fail-proof cure. It’s one part aging, one part taking daily risks to exercise outside my comfort zone, and one part applying logic to an emotional situation. Perfectionism hinges upon emotions: “I’m not enough. I don’t do enough. If only I…” The Critic. The Puritan. And as writer Deanna Kizis has called it, Stan.

If you read one more thing today, read Talking Myself Up by Deanna Kizis.  It’s quite possibly the best article I’ve ever read on destructive inner dialogue.  Think of it this way: Stan might inspire you to name your own doubter and thereby vanquish him.

And if all else fails, see the rosy side of doubt  á la Rene Descartes:
“If you would be a real seeker after truth, it is necessary that at least once in your life you doubt, as far as possible, all things.”

Florida, Here I Come!

May has been a rather rotten month blog-wise.  Too much sunny weather and not enough writing.  The garden beckons, the dog begs for a walk, and somewhere in between work and sleep and taking care of my DH, I pencil in some time to write my fiction.

I suffer without my writing.  I won’t say it’s like air or anything cheesy or melodramatic, but I definitely get in a foul mood when the pen fails to meet paper.  I start stalking around the house, glaring at the clock, and in general become that horror you see on late night scare flicks.  Almost that bad, really.

But I am going on vacation now.  My flight leaves in a few hours and I must say it’s a relief that Jon wrested my laptop out of my arms.  What am I left to do now but sip pina coladas and laze about the beach?

I truly don’t know.

Watching “The Pacific” HBO miniseries

PFC Robert Leckie:  “Dear Vera, it seems a lifetime since we met outside Saint Mary’s. This great undertaking for God and country has landed us in a tropical paradise, somewhere in what Jack London refers to as “those terrible Solomons.” It is a garden of Eden. The jungle holds both beauty and terror in its depths, most terrible of which is man. We have met the enemy and have learned nothing more about him. I have, however, learned some things about myself. There are things men can do to one another that are sobering to the soul. It is one thing to reconcile these things with God, but another to square it with yourself.”

After waiting weeks for the mini-series to pile up on our dvr so we can watch it at our insatiable leisure, my DH, Jon, and I sat down for the first episode, Guadalcanal/Leckie.  One word: powerful.  By the end of the episode some of my heart strings were definately tugged and I couldn’t help but recall the harrowing impressions told by my grandfather and passed down through my mother.  As I never heard my grandfather utter a single word about the war, I know very few concrete details, only this: he was in the Navy and one of the boats he was on sunk.  Between the bombs and the sharks, he was one of the few lucky survivors.  To this day, every year,he still meets up with the last of his battalion. 

 

He’s the handsome chap fourth from left to right.

  I adore this picture.  It’s the end of the war and you can just feel the exhilaration.  My grandpa’s front and center, just to the right of the broom.